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The vacation perks of Neiman Marcus are very 2020: Santa Claus delivers on the roadside and digital present advisors ship champagne

Neiman Marcus is now offering an in-store virtual gift advisor service and concierge service to assist customers in selecting items on their wish-list.

Source: Neiman Marcus

During this holiday season, Santa Claus will deliver parcels to the roadside by appointment with Neiman Marcus.

It's just one of the new initiatives the bankrupt luxury department store chain is trying to attract customers. A virtual gift advisor service has also been launched, where customers take a quiz that is matched with an assistant who, depending on their budget, sends them an SMS with numerous gift ideas or calls them. A perk of the service is champagne and chocolate chip cookies, which are mailed courtesy of Neiman.

"We are in the curation business. We have always seen that when we help people, they are happier, buy more and come back more often," said Geoffroy van Raemdonck, CEO of Neiman Marcus, in a telephone interview. "And this year I have the feeling that people are experiencing a new holiday experience … and that's why it is more important than ever to get this extra support to find something magical."

"We really want to give that personal touch," he added.

Forced social distancing, financial hardships, and other pressures from the pandemic lead many to look for sentimental and unique gifts for family and friends. But there's also an element to this holiday season, not knowing what to buy your loved ones. Those consumers with extra cash to spare spent much of the year buying new home appliances, kitchen appliances, and cozy lounge attire – items that are usually popular during the holidays. What else is on the wish list?

Neiman focuses on unique luxury experiences. The retailer released its popular 2020 fantasy gift list as part of the launch of the 94th edition of its annual Christmas book on November 9th. According to van Raemdonck, two of his fantasy gifts were sold out just 48 hours later.

"The interest was immediate," he said. "This year, most of those gifts are experiences … like building a library in your home. They're not just something you wear."

"Luxury is about desires," added van Raemdonck. "It's about not knowing what you don't need, or not knowing you need, but when you see it, you have to have it. To me, this is something we can do better than anyone."

In late September, Neiman completed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection process that emerged from one of the most famous retail breakdowns during the pandemic. The restructuring plan eliminated more than $ 4 billion in debt. A new board includes former LVMH North America chairman Pauline Brown and former eBay strategy chief Kris Miller. Van Raemdonck remained CEO of the company, which filed for bankruptcy protection on May 7th.

During this holiday season, Santa Claus delivers parcels to the roadside at Neiman Marcus on request.

Source: Neiman Marcus

Since then, Nieman has closed several stores, including the Hudson Yards store in New York City, which opened in March 2019. It continues to operate 38 stores and two Bergdorf Goodman department stores.

"We are very happy with the number of stores and the location," said van Raemdonck. "We'll look at it all the time. At the moment we're happy with it."

The company has allocated more than $ 160 million to invest in its businesses over the next three years, including renovating its flagship in Dallas. Part of his strategy is to add more restaurants and cafes to his stores, the CEO said.

"We really have to create a personal experience when you go into our store," said the CEO, betting that consumers will soon be able to shop and eat comfortably indoors.

But it knows it needs to invest more online too. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online spending, even in the luxury category, which has not always been the case. According to a report by advisory group Bain & Co., online shopping for luxury goods has doubled, accounting for 23% of total purchases in 2020, up from 12% in 2019. Bain now expects e-commerce to be the world's largest channel for luxury spending is 2025.

According to van Raemdonck, Neiman makes about 35% of its sales online. The company employs around 5,000 sales people who are exclusively dedicated to the digital sector. Some of these staff help with their virtual concierge service, which will continue after the holidays, he said.

Like Macy & # 39; s, Neiman is also offering a virtual Santa Claus experience this Christmas season, starting on Friday, allowing families to book one-on-one video calls with Santa himself.

"During the pandemic, we hired a lot more Santa Clauses than any other year," said van Raemdonck said. "And I think that speaks in favor of magic. People need magic."

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